Have you found the everlasting experience of peace this summer? The great anticipation of summer seems to simultaneously give ideas of vacations and with that the end desire of the everlasting experience of peace. As we enter August and the return of schools getting back into session, did your summer of fun give the calming experience of peace? Are you filled with the beautifulÂ experience of peace now or did it fade with the end of your vacation? Continue reading The Way to Experience Peace→
I hate problems! As I write today I am glancing over my right shoulder at a stain on the ceiling, my daughter pointed out to me earlier, in the studio. I have looked everywhere and can’t imagine what kind of pipe could be in that ceiling as there is no water running above it. I have racked my brain attempting to imagine what could have caused this to appear but came up with nothing, a seemingly unsolvable problem without a great cost incurring.
The word perseverance comes to mind as I know that isÂ what it will take to find the answer to this puzzling stain that I am sure wasn’t there earlier. I hate problems, especially problems that seem to be totally out of my control, like this sudden leak in the ceiling.
Earlier this week, I read a quote about problems, which commented that people are like teabags. If you want to know what is inside them, just drop them in hot water! Has God ever tested your faith with a problem?Â Do you come out as strong or weak?Â What do problems reveal about you? I have certainly faced my share of problems and more than a leak in the ceiling, but sometimes the leaks in the ceiling are the proverbial straws that break the camel’s back. Chippie the parakeet had a day like that. It was just one problem after the other. Continue reading Pressing Out Problems with Perseverance→
Things are sometimes not what they appear to be and it is often only in hindsight that weÂ think we understand the answers; the true revelations, or see clearly theÂ situation at hand so it can be put to rest. We often think thatÂ because of hindsight we “knew it all along”. Studies have revealed however that hindsight is not the usual simple surmising revelation of things weÂ knew all along. This is knownÂ Continue reading Hindsight vs Faith; Our Need for Explanations→
A careful balance of life can often be a challenge as the pressures of the world can quickly tip the balance scale. I haveÂ concluded that I can be an unbalanced person. Those of you who know me personally can stop laughing at this point and commenting that you have known that for years. I probably need to quantify that statement. I can be unbalanced as I am a passionate person because when I get involved with a project or take on a mission I become so focused that I throw off the delicate balance of life. Perhaps what I should really say is that I am a hyper-focused goal-oriented person when I dedicate myself to an idea. So as my family will attest if I begin working in the studio or take on a responsibilityÂ and becomeÂ focused on that project because I have committed to it then I will not stop for much of anything including dinner. I will work until I drop or finish the project to my satisfaction whether reasonable or not.
I can remember a time a good many years ago of a day in which I had taken on such a project in the studio. I do not remember now what it was that I was working on but I was working and had been all day. The hour grew later and I remember my husband casually walking in and asking if I had any plans for dinner. I remember thinking dinner? It is too early for dinner I will think about that later. Of course later did come and I had not thought about dinner as I wasÂ super focused. As day grew into night, my jokester of a husband filed into the studio withÂ the children in tow all with exaggerated dejected looks of hunger begging me to please stop so they could eat. He had taken matters into his own hands and prepared dinner for us all but the drama got my attention as I really hadn’t realized how late the hour had grown. Thankfully my life partner understood how I often allowed my commitments to take over and he righted the balance in the family. This type of super-focusedÂ commitment however can throw the fine balance of life off and often there is no one to right the balance but ourselves. I remember this story as it did make an impact on me even though my spouse meant it to be funny. IÂ know that I am like that and I have tried to be more aware of it over the years and realize that my commitments are only owned by me and not the others in my life and that I must balance life out.
This idea of balance is a difficult concept for many of us as we often allow the world to influence and dictate our every move. When we go throughÂ life in this wayÂ we only survive in the world and do not thrive because the balance is off. The world we live in with all itsÂ “get it yesterday” attitudesÂ and influence is constantly and consistently telling us how we should live, what we should do, and how we should do it. If we allow this dictation and direction to control our lives we will immediately become out of balance and turn to the world for help when the scales of our lives tip in the wrong direction.
The importanceÂ of balanceÂ in ourÂ life is what leads us to this week’s focus verse; 1 John 2:15;
Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. (NLT)
Have you ever made your plans for the day and it just seems like everything you did multiplied or mushroomed into one issue after another? I must say that pretty much sums up my day yesterday. I knew there were things I had to do, need to do, and then wanted to do. I am a goal setter and often set the goals unrealistically. I attempt to keep God in the loop but often find myself forging ahead without giving full consideration to everything as I move forward.
YesterdayÂ was a day of doing and catching up on some much-needed chores and maintenance aroundÂ our home. The day began after I completed my morning Bible study and time with God. I prayed that morning about this week’s writing because although I knew what the verse was to beÂ I wasn’t sure what I would be writing about. So I asked God to please provide direction so it may help others to know and understood His word better.
So armed with my mental “to do” list I began my day. First on my list was to replace theÂ GFCI plug by the garden pond. I had done this twice before and knew the steps to proceed. The standard turn off the electricity was first in order as I gathered my tools to head outside. The first obstacle I ran into was that someone had not placed the batteryÂ for the screw gun properly on the chargerÂ so it could charge causing me to move into a manual operation. Determined however not to be dismayedÂ IÂ armed myself withÂ the screwdriver, quickly reviewed the directions, and out I went.
Well the task was a bit more difficult than I anticipated because the plug’s location was difficult to maneuver around. I managed in the end to hang upside down, resting my knees on the rocks,Â constantly shoving my glasses back up on my nose and changed out the plug. Now for the testing of the plug to make sure everything was as it should be.
I returned inside the house to turn the electricity back on and then returned to test my plug. My test promptly failed so I had to refer to my instruction sheet in the trouble shooting section. It was becoming evident at this point that my plans were going astray.Â The instructionsÂ suggested I make sure the connections were properly wired. What this really meant was to begin again so back in the house I went to turn back off the electricity. I then returned outside to unscrew everything again to determine the issue.
To make a long story short IÂ ended up stripping out the screw head on one of the screws and couldn’t get the plug unhinged from the box. I tried everything from every size screwdriver to pliers of every sort to attempt to get that screw to loosen up but nothing worked. My frustration level was increasing as was my body heat, my knees throbbed from the rocks, and I was ready to fling my glasses into the pond.
I went back into the studio and in a desperate measure took the Dremel tool out that had a cutting disc on it andÂ prepared to simply cut the head of the screw off. As I arrived back to the pond I felt a strong urging telling me to test the plug with something else beside the pond pump so after turning the electricity back on I plugged in the Dremel tool and lo and behold it powered up so now I knew the plug worked great so I quickly put everything back in place and cleaned up as now I had a bigger issueÂ for I knewÂ the pond pump probably needed to be replaced. Three hours later I was researching and ordering a new pump and had lost hours of time on my very loaded “to do” list. So far my plans for the day were not going so well.
Needless to say my next adventures didn’t go as I planned either. It seemed each step I took sent me in twenty different directions making my progress slow and very frustrating. In fact it took me about three-quarters of the way through the next projects as everything I did seemed to create further issues before I realized that my many plans of the day were falling apart and as I cried out to God for help He gave me my answer.Â I began to laugh as I realized this was God’s purpose. Now do not get me wrong I am not saying that God made a disaster of my day because admittedly I did a good job of that on my own as I added to my self-made plans as I went but suddenly I knew the events of the day andÂ my carefully laid out plans had now given me the necessary means toÂ illustrate this week’s focus verse as God’s purpose had prevailed.
Today is a beautiful spring day with wonderful temperatures and a light steady breeze that makes me humble myself in awe over the experience that God has allowed me to have. The chill has seemingly disappeared from our area and left in its wake the promise of great things to come.
I wandered around my yard marveling at the new buds and blooms of things that are there and things that will come. The vibrant colors, the details of the shapes and lines of the inner parts of a flower, and textures abounding areÂ a feast to an artist’s eye. I saw, smelled, and touched God’s cornucopia of spring and awed at its majesty thanking God for all these treats. I thought as I feasted with all of my senses wow, how great and powerful God is as He can do all this. So why can’t I humble myself totally before God? I know He created everything down to the last tiniestÂ detail even those I cannot see yet I am not willing to let Him have free and total reign.
Now don’t get me wrong I know God is our creator. I know he is greater than me. I know He can do all things. I know He loves us so much He sent His only Son to die in our place so that we may have eternal life.Â I know He can make the impossible – possible.
But… (Three little letters and one very small word that has aÂ tremendous impact on any statement)
But what if God’s will and purpose for my life doesn’t match mine?
But what if I do not like His plan for me?
But what if He doesn’t answer my prayers the way I want?
What if I let Him have part of my life but IÂ holdÂ on toÂ just a bit of itÂ and see if I can make that small bit work better for meÂ the way I think I want my life to be? Because I am here on earth and God is there, right? He has to be too busy with bigger issues than mine, right? So I will just pray the prayer of the not so humble…
I will just handle this part of my life if that is ok with you. Oh God, I know you are busy. I see the broken world around me so just in case you get tied up, just in case you forget, just in case this isn’t important enough for you to care about. Please let me fill myself with stress, anxiety, and worry. IÂ am thinking maybe I shouldÂ take this on myself and not bother you with it. You are great and all but I might not like your plan. I think my plan is better because then I will be happy because it is my way. I see how this world works and the world tells me all the time that it is up to me what I make of my life. So if you don’t mind I will just handle the worry and stress from here. I like to have control of my life and IÂ have a feelingÂ that with all that is going on you might get too busy to help me so I will take it from hereÂ but…if this doesn’t work my way God, I will let you take over. I will let you have free reign when I make such a mess of the issue that no one on earth can repair it then God I will turn to you.
Amen (so be it) so be the mess I will make of this so stand by, God, as I take control
I may not have actually said this prayer using these words but I have done it with my actions. We often act and react with little thought to who should be in control and inÂ our impatience and lack of being humble we create a mess that we then beg God to “fix”. How, when surrounded with a world of great magnificence can we not humble ourselves before God and allow Him total control first? Jesus spoke the words, “Not my will but thine.” such easy words to recite such difficult words to truly mean but it is only with these words meant in their true context that we will find peace, comfort, and a relief from anxiety and worry. To fully submit to God we must learn to cast our worries and cares to God recognizing how much God loves and cares about us. This week’s focus verse is 1 Peter 5:7;
Give all your worries and cares to God because He cares about you. (NLT)
We all struggle somewhat with having the braggingÂ privilege of being right with others. Being right makes us feel important, needed, necessary, and sometimes puts us in power.Â My husbandÂ says that he is never right so he often jokes making a big deal when I tell him that he is right. He will stop and insist everything and everyone around him must come to a halt while he asks me to repeat myself, loudly I might add,Â stating that he was right. Then he will tell me and anyone within hearing distance even a stranger to please note the time and date that he was right. It is hard to admit that we are wrong and someone else is right even if they are joking.
Allowing someone else to be right requires us to humble ourselves before them which is most likely the biggest issue we as humans have with letting someone else to be right. It gives importance and power to the person who is right and sometimes depending on whom that person is will often determine to whatÂ length we are willing toÂ admit our mistakes. I know my husband is just joking and he does so out of love so it is not hard to admit most of the time when he is right. It is more difficult with others who do not have the same level of personal relationship with us. AllowingÂ or trusting someone else to be rightÂ requires us to have faith in their rightnessÂ allowingÂ them to have control over us.
When we speak of being right with God however we are not speaking of being right and wrong but being accepted, justified, and made free from guilt. There is only one way to haveÂ freedom, acceptance, and justification and that isÂ with faith in GodÂ through Jesus Christ. This week’s focus verse is Romans 3:28
So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law. (NLT)
Peace just sounds like a calm word doesn’t it? Even the way you say the word peace is peaceful. You don’t have to open your mouth you simply allow a breath to escape and the word sounds out in a calm way. The Greeks felt peace was the wholeness, well-being of health, and my personal favorite, undisturbed. Peace though can have many meanings to different people. What I may consider to be a peaceful state you may not agree so there are different perspectives of and on the word peace.
I had the privilege last weekend to travel, meet, and spend the afternoon with my favorite cousin who is more of a brother than a cousin. During our time together I experienced things from a different perspective as an adult that I feel relates to my thinking about the different perspectives of peace. Continue reading The Different Perspectives of Peace→
The Beginning ”“ Understanding the Root of Transformation
God’s Will is Revealed though Transformation
We are almost to the end of January as this week marks the beginning of the end of the month. Have you had a transformation into a new you by adhering to your New Year’s resolutions? Many of us vowed to eat better, exercise more, or be more organized among a plethora of other resolutions. If you follow the self-help pop psychology crowd you may find some conflicting numbers but many believe that in 21 -28 days you can change or break a habit creating a transformation in yourself. Unfortunately however, a University College of London psychologist,Philippa Lally, conducted a research project that found that it took 66 days for most habits or changes to occur. That means that if we follow this research finding that March is the monthÂ our transformation reveals itself which is a quarter of the year. Â The really interesting part of this study though really wasn’t the number associated with the change but that the habit itself really depended on the attempted habit being changed. So a transformation can occur after a short time or it can take a long time depending on what exactly the transformation being attempted is. It seems though that maybe we are looking at this transformation issue from the wrong angle. Perhaps we need to find the root of how we developed the issue that we want transformed from. Is it because we have gotten ourselves caught in the issues or “customs” of the world and something deep inside of us is urging us in a new direction as we know this is not the way or purpose our lives should be going? In order for a transformation to take place perhaps we must understand the root of the issue. By examining the root maybe we can holdÂ to our new transformation easier if we understand how we got off track and can avoid that pitfall in the future. We can begin to understandÂ by focusing on this week’s Scripture verse by the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:2;
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this word, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good, and pleasing, and perfect. (NLT)
Our Will versus God’s Will – Placing God in Control
Yield to God’s Will
For most of us, the words, “Your will be done” that places God in control of our lifeÂ is difficult to utter and truly mean. We really just want things to go our own way and of our own thinking. This is because we generally strive for the easier, more comfortable, or more convenient way of doing things. Often however the easier route of the present is not what is best. This really came to light to me this week as I passed by the closet in the upstairs hall and found the door left open. As I explored why the door was open I found that my daughter had thrown the empty gift boxes that I had asked her to clean up in her room on the closet floor. She did what was easier ”“ her will by half-heartedly doing mine. How many times do we half-heartedly tell God that we want His will to be done but yet we don’t really follow through with it? We do it only part of the way because it was easier, more comfortable, and seemed more logical to our thinking. The moreÂ however that we grow inÂ our relationship with Christ the moreÂ we realize that His way of thinking isn’t likeÂ ours and in fact what often seems more logical and easy isn’t usually God’s will at all and that is because we can’t see the ”big picture” the ultimate plan.
My daughter didn’t see anything wrong with throwing the empty gift boxes on the floor of the closet. It solved the problem she had in the immediate and accomplished what she needed to do. She didn’t see the ”big picture”. She didn’t see the problem of the future that when we needed to find something in that closet we would have to dig through the boxes and tissue paper thrown in the closet to search and find what we truly needed. She didn’t see that a hasty andÂ easy decision of her will in the present could lead to a bigger mess and frustration in the future. Isn’t that how it is with us and God’s willÂ too?
We often don’t see that by half-heartedly doing what God intends for us to do we aren’t preparing for the futureÂ situations that sit in place to bless us. We know this because God does not make plans to harm us. (Romans 8:28)He loves us too much and isn’t setting plans in place for us to suffer. He often has to work around the choices we or others have made against His plans in order for His plans to take place. Can you imagine how upset, angry, frustrated and the emotional list could continue if every time we made plans for and instructed our children, spouse, friends, employees, or anyone to do something our way for a more successful outcome they either did not comply, did so in their own frame of thinking, or only half-heartedly did the job often resulting in aÂ job needing repeated? If this happened day in and out would we give up, move on,Â or perhaps say ”to heck with you all”? Would we feel disrespected and wonder why we even care? God doesn’t. He very patiently continues to love us and adjusts or reroutes the plan because ultimately His plan will succeed with or without our or the world’s cooperation. So if we think about it like this shouldn’t we strive to comply with “Your will be done” and not ours?
Our focus verse this week is from Matthew 26:39and the words of Christ.
”He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, ”My Father! If it is possible let this cup of suffering be taken from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (NLT)